Here are some early reviews of my new book on Mindful Emotional Eating.
“Don t be fooled by the seeming contradiction in the title of Mindful Emotional Eating. The book makes the case to troubled eaters and their treaters that if we re going to turn to food when we re stressed or distressed, we best do it not with guilt, shame, self-hatred, or detachment from our bodies and their cravings, but with a keen mindfulness that will satisfy our appetites and foster emotional well-being.” –Karen R. Koenig, LCSW, M.Ed., psychotherapist, eating coach, and author of Outsmarting Overeating.
“This wonderfully creative book teaches us that we don’t need willpower to overcome our unruly eating habits, but mindfulness skill power. It shows that freedom doesn’t come from stopping emotional eating, but when we learn how to eat emotionally in moderation, more effectively and without self-judgement or self-loafing. Pavel Somov has put together a fun mindfulness toolbox for not only healthcare professionals, but anyone who struggles with emotional eating.” –Alexa Frey, Co-Founder, The Mindfulness Project, London
Pavel’s Mindful Emotional Eating is a gem of a toolkit that will be invaluable both to individuals seeking a mindful eating self-help option and to practitioners looking to infuse more mindfulness into their work…” –foreword by Linda Craighead, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology & Director of Clinical training, Emory University, author of The Appetite Awareness Workbook.
“Dr. Pavel Somov’s newest book, Mindful Emotional Eating, offers individuals struggling with eating concerns a revolutionary guidebook for developing a satisfying, enjoyable relationship to food. The book challenges prevailing notions by de-pathologizing emotional eating and affirms that emotional eating is one among many ways that we can care for ourselves. His humanistic harm reduction approach helps people shift from demonizing emotional eating to affirming that we all eat for emotional reasons. The positive change we seek is from mindless to mindful moderate emotional eating. His mindful emotional eating (MEE) process is the antidote to the shame, blame, self-attacks and rebellious over-eating that characterize mindless emotional eating. MEE empathizes with people s need to self-soothe and empowers people to …
We tend to think of metabolism in purely physiological terms. I invite you to think of metabolism in a broader sense, as information processing. Take the act of eating, for example. We can think of eating in purely physiological, metabolic terms… or we can think of eating as an informational process in which an act of tasting is an act of knowing. I describe this info-experiential view of eating in Reinventing the Meal.
Here’s a similar perspective from Dr. Hari Sharma, MD, a Western trained proponent of ancient Vedic approaches to healing:
“When the taste receptors first experience the different taste and textural properties of a meal, an enormous amount of information is delivered through the body (primarily through the limbic system), triggering basic metabolic processes.”
“The body eventually metabolizes the molecular constituents of the food, but it first metabolizes the sensory experience of taste.”
“Long before the food is digested, its influence has spread throughout the body. A delicious meal is more than a treat; the taste can be nourishing in itself.”
“The body metabolizes the emotional content of every experience that it has,” writes Dr. Sharma. And that includes the experience of taste.
In sum, to taste is to experience, to experience is to feel, and to feel is to know.
“What is the future of eating?” is the question that I tried to answer in “Reinventing the Meal” (2012)
Still a cultural underground, transhumanism is a gradual churning of techno-genetic possibilities. As a social movement, transhumanism is still in the stages of fermentation. From the evolutionary standpoint, transhumanism is an attempt at self-guided evolution, a project of customizing the body to meet the needs of the mind.
But what does the mind fundamentally need from the body? Faster information processing would be nice. An extended health span would be nifty. Who wouldn’t like faster legs, sharper vision, or more acute hearing? Heck, having a functional pair of wings wouldn’t hurt either. Top all of this off with bulletproof skin, and it might seem as though this human dream of functional augmentation was complete. But it isn’t. It’s lacking the most fundamental piece: greater metabolic independence. Indeed, what minds seem to really like is sovereignty. And sovereignty is synonymous with greater energy independence. Of course, all metabolic independence is relative. No life is ultimately independent of its environment.
As I see it, a transhuman project of metabolic independence could take one of two general paths: that of direct human photosynthesis at a cellular level (let’s call it the path of Homo solaris) or the path of the Energizer Bunny. The former is a path of genetic modification and perhaps surgical augmentation or a wholesale nanosurgical alteration on a cellular level. The latter path might involve some sort of “future skin,” a kind of biotech chimera project of swapping elastic solar panels for patches of skin. The specifics are beyond me. In fact, it’s likely that there are solutions that lie beyond the capacity of my imagination. But one thing seems clear to me: Whether motivated by compassion (for the life that we consume) or by self-determination, we will—if we are fortunate to survive as a civilization—seek greater energy autonomy on an individual basis.
There can be a tendency to see transhumanism as a loss of humanity. It certainly may be. But it’s also possible to view transhumanism as an amplification of humanity—as the extension of our essence and …
When my client presents with concerns about “emotional eating,” I ask myself the same question. When you, as a clinician, get in the habit of asking yourself this question, the answer becomes rather self-evident. What emotional eating clients want is obvious: they want to eat when they feel bad and they don’t want to feel bad about eating. They want to feel in control during this coping, self-soothing episode (both during and after emotional eating). But they have come to believe that eating to cope and feeling in control are somehow mutually exclusive.
Not so! We can help our clients have exactly what they want. Yes, they can eat to cope and, yes, they can feel in control (both during and after the emotional eating episode). How? With the help of mindful emotional eating (MEE).
Mindful emotional eating satisfies two self-regulation fantasies: To eat and to feel in control. Mindful emotional eating allows your client to pursue change without sacrificing what they want. To clarify, I am not talking about emotional eating. I’m talking about mindful emotional eating.
The book that I have coming out later this fall is not about how to stop emotional eating but about how to eat emotionally in moderation, more effectively, and without self-judgment and self-loathing. Here’s the table of contents for the upcoming book on mindful emotional eating to give you a better sense of what it’s about. If you are a clinician and you are interested in reviewing this book, you can contact me at www.pavelsomov.com
Table of Contents
Foreword by Linda Craighead, Ph.D., author of Appetite Awareness Workbook
Part I: Short Term Mindful Emotional Eating (MEE)
Chapter 1: Opening the Mind
Chapter 2: Emptying the Mind
Chapter 3: Waking Up the Mind & Keeping It Awake
Chapter 4: Not Minding the Mind
Chapter 5: Programmatic Notes: Packaging MEE
Chapter 6: Ego-friendly, Humanistic, Nonperfectionistic Homework
Part II: Long Term MEE
Chapter 7: Ordinary Perfection: Leveraging …
I have another book coming out later this fall – on mindful emotional eating (not on emotional eating or on mindful eating, but on how to make emotional eating mindful). Here’s a foreword for this book from Linda Craighead, the author of Appetite Awareness Training who championed the idea of effective emotional eating. If you are a clinician and are interested in writing a review/blurb for the book, please, contact me through my book site: www.pavelsomov.com
Foreword from Linda Craighead:
Pavel’s book on Mindful Emotional Eating is a gem of a toolkit that will be invaluable both to individuals seeking a mindful eating self-help option and to practitioners looking to infuse more mindfulness into their work with clients distressed by emotional eating. Pavel’s Humanistic Harm Reduction approach is a breath of fresh air on a topic that is particularly difficult to address sanely in the current culture. Obesity has become a “hot “ topic; it threatens the health of the next generation and will bankrupt our health care system if we cannot find a better way to come to terms with the inherent double bind society has created. Food is engineered to appeal directly to our biologically-based preferences for sugar and fat and food is more accessible than ever before. We are subjected to an overload of advertising with the messages “Indulge yourself- you deserve it” and “ More is better”. A “tall” is the smallest option even available at Starbucks. Marketers appear to believe that small or medium sounds so negative that only a fool would want such an option. If food portions are all “above average”, our weight will also be above average.
Under the current circumstances, no knowledgable person is surprised by the increase in obesity but short of invoking a food police state, a viable solution remains elusive. Substantial long-term weight loss for those who are already obese requires nothing less than a lifestyle makeover that must be maintained forever, and only the most motivated individuals have been able to do this successfully. Many experts in the field have essentially given up on …
Mindful eating moment # 804: “Standing on a city park bench, eating mulberries. A summer treat.”
The Sanskrit root of the word “yoga” means “to yoke.” Therefore, yoga is literally union. In truth, all of your existence is yoga. You are made of this world. You depend on this world. If this world ends— locally or globally—you end too. There is no absolute self-sufficiency, and therefore no stand-alone self. All separation is relative, a trick of the mind. Untrick yourself at your next meal. Recognize that you are not apart from this world but a part of this world. Eating, just like breathing, reminds you of this union. As such, eating is yoga; eating unifies. And your dinner table is a yoga mat for your mind. Stay in the asana you are in. When you eat, eat.
Adapted from “Reinventing the Meal” (Somov, 2013)
Botanically, a seed is not the potential for life; it’s already a life—a tiny plant life with a lunch box of its own food, awaiting a journey of life. In my book The Lotus Effect (2010), I shared a story about 1,300-year-old lotus seeds that managed to germinate and grow when given a chance.
Eat a handful of seeds to meditate on how innocently your metabolic needs result in killing. Here you are, taking care of yourself and, at the same time, denying a living thing its chance to grow and flourish. Wrestle for a moment with the question of which is more important, you or those seeds. My answer is you, of course. If those seeds could eat you to survive, they would. Life is inevitably self-serving. As long as there is a self, it is going to serve itself a serving of environ- ment. That’s just how it is. So, even as you contemplate this inevitable zero-sum metabolic scenario, enjoy your sustenance. No guilt, I say— just compassion and gratitude!
Adapted from Reinventing the Meal (Somov, 2013)
Breaking bread with someone is a form of intimacy. But eating can also alienate. As Lucille Schulberg wrote in Historic India, “A primary impulse behind the caste system was probably the fear of spiritual pollution through food” (1968, 140):
[The Indians believed that] the mana, or ‘soul-stuff’ of human beings was the same as the soul-stuff of food, especially vegeta- ble food. Unbroken cereal food—grasses growing in a field, seeds waiting to be gathered—retained their soul-stuff when they were handled; anyone could touch and eat them safely. But once grain was softened in cooking or seeds were pressed for their oil, their soul-stuff mixed with the soul-stuff of the person who prepared the food… A taboo on sharing food with an outsider—that is, with anyone not in [one’s] own caste—was a protective measure against such spiritual pollution… The higher a caste, the more restricted its menu.
A couple of questions for you.
Ponder how what you eat might have stratified you socially. Ponder how connecting to something existential or spiritual through eating can also lead to some degree of social disconnecting.
Adapted from Reinventing the Meal (Somov, 2013)
When you eat a fruit, such as an apple, you are stepping—wittingly or unwittingly—into someone else’s reproductive cycle, becoming involved in a kind of ménage à trois with a tree and Earth in a life-giving project.
In fact, when you eat a piece of fruit, you are literally eating a plant-based sex organ. A fruit, botanically speaking, is a sexually active part of a flowering plant. When you consume an apple, you eat its fleshy, sweet, pulpy ovary tissue, and then you participate in the process of seed dispersal by throwing out the apple core.
Naturally, if you shred the apple core and its seeds in a kitchen garbage disposal, there isn’t any life-giving going on. But if you eat an apple and toss the core into your backyard, you might just be participating in the birth of a future apple tree. Ponder this apple bite from the tree of knowledge before your next meal.
Adapted from Reinventing the Meal (Somov, 2013)
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